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Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Kowtowing to the Chinese is not going to save Najib – RPK

Finally, Muhyiddin has to unfreeze the transfer of all those assets that Dr Mahathir wants his proxies to transfer to him. This, it seems, was the straw that broke the camel’s back and which forced Dr Mahathir to come to a decision that peace with Najib is no longer possible and that it has to be a duel to the death.


Raja Petra Kamarudin

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad warned Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak two years ago just after the 2013 general election but Najib did not take the warning serious enough. It is no use kowtowing to the Chinese, said Dr Mahathir. Umno’s future lies in the hands of the Malay voters. Never mind how much Najib gives in to the Chinese, they are still going to vote opposition, not vote Barisan Nasional.

Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin demonstrated the right Malay nationalist attitude when he declared that he is Malay first and Malaysian second. Actually, as a true Muslim, he should have said Muslim first, Malay second and Malaysian third.

Anyway, Muhyiddin has proven that he is more a Malay nationalist than Najib is. And if Najib does not know how to garner Malay votes and ensure that Umno continues to get Malay support then he has to make way for Muhyiddin to take over. Dr Mahathir’s message was very clear, and which Najib chose to ignore at his own peril.

Any political analyst worth his salt can tell you that urban or non-Malay support for Barisan Nasional is as good as dead. The only saving grace is that there are more rural seats than urban seats. Hence, even if Barisan Nasional can garner just 45% of the votes, but as long as these votes are distributed in the rural constituencies, then Barisan Nasional still can retain power with over 50% of the seats.

Dr Mahathir is no novice. If not he could not have stayed on as Prime Minister for 22 years and fend off all the attacks and attempts to oust him from 1987 to 1999. He finally retired and handed power to his Deputy, Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, in 2003 only when he was ready and on his terms and not a day earlier and on no one else’s terms.

Both the Special Branch and the Military Intelligence have told Najib that the next general election is going to be touch-and-go. And it has become even more critical with Dr Mahathir leading the attack on Najib and giving the impression that the Prime Minister has zero support of Umno. And Dr Mahathir’s message to Umno is that if they wish to remain in power then they need to kick Najib out and replace him with Muhyiddin.

DAP supports this idea. They not only want Najib to step down in favour of Muhyiddin but DAP also suggests that the new Prime Minister should seek the help of Dr Mahathir and Pak Lah to run the country.

This was what Dr Mahathir first said in 2008 soon after Pakatan Rakyat took five states and 82 seats in Parliament. Dr Mahathir said that Pak Lah must go for doing so badly in the elections and that the new prime minister must be guided by a Presidential Council that will be formed to advise the country’s CEO, a sort of government within a government.

Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah was the first choice of successor to Pak Lah but, unfortunately, he rejected the idea of the Presidential Council. Ku Li replied that if he became Prime Minster then he is not going to be a puppet prime minister or become anyone’s proxy. As Prime Minister he would make all the decisions and not allow a de facto Prime Minister to tell him what to do.

Understandably, because of this attitude and rejection of the terms, Ku Li said he was dropped and the job was offered to Najib instead. Unfortunately, as Dr Mahathir said, after becoming Prime Minister, Najib reneged on the terms of his appointment and refused to take advice from Dr Mahathir.

In the initial stages Najib would pretend to listen to what Dr Mahathir wanted. But then Dr Mahathir began to realise that Najib would just smile and nod and not actually do all those things that he was asked to do.

When Dr Mahathir began to get a bit more aggressive and Najib could no longer take it, he just avoided the old man. According to Dr Mahathir, for six months Najib ignored him and refused to meet him or talk to him. That was when Dr Mahathir made up his mind that Najib has to go.

And that opportunity offered itself when the 1MDB issue came along.

In the beginning Dr Mahathir cited Najib’s ‘giving in’ to the Chinese with the ‘2013 election disaster’ backdrop as the reason he has to go. Dr Mahathir accused Najib of favouring the Chinese and of neglecting the Malays who are going to be the voters who will ensure that Umno stays in power.

Then Dr Mahathir said that Najib is ‘giving in’ to Singapore and that is why he refuses to build the Crooked Bridge, which he had initially promised to do but did not because Singapore is not in favour of the bridge. Dr Mahathir said he does not understand why Najib listens to Singapore. “What is it that Singapore has on him?” asked Dr Mahathir.

But all that did not really move the ground until Dr Mahathir played up the 1MDB issue. Only then did all hell break loose. So now Dr Mahathir is like a dog with a bone. He has got his teeth into the 1MDB bone and is growling and is not letting go.

A number of Umno leaders have suggested that Najib should sit down with Dr Mahathir and resolve their differences. But it is too late for that. Dr Mahathir has gone beyond the point of no return and there is no turning back any more. Dr Mahathir has to see this to the end and complete what he started.

There are no more deals to be made with Najib. The deals must now be made with Najib’s successor, Muhyiddin. First is to ensure that Umno does not waste time with the Chinese voters and focus instead on the Malay voters.

Next, Muhyiddin must build that Crooked Bridge to Singapore and bail out Proton and not allow it to collapse.

Finally, Muhyiddin has to unfreeze the transfer of all those assets that Dr Mahathir wants his proxies to transfer to him. This, it seems, was the straw that broke the camel’s back and which forced Dr Mahathir to come to a decision that peace with Najib is no longer possible and that it has to be a duel to the death.

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